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Section: Scientific Foundations

Discourse and dialogue structure: computational semantics and pragmatics

Participants : Mauro Gaio, Alain Lecomte, Richard Moot, Christian Retoré [correspondent] .

Montague semantics have some limits. Two of them which, technically speaking, concern the context, can be overcome by using DRT, that is Discourse Representation Theory and its variants. [44] , [63] Firstly, if one wants to construct the semantics of a piece of text, one has to take into account sequences of sentences, either discourse or dialogue, and to handle the context which is incrementally defined by the text. Secondly, some constructs do not obey the strict compositionality of Montague semantics, since pronouns can refer to bound variables. For instance a pronoun of the main clause can be bound in a conditional sub-clause.

For these reasons, Discourse Representation Theory was introduced. This model defines an incremental view of the construction of discourse semantics. As opposed to Montague semantics, this construction is top-down, and proceeds more like state change than like functional application — although lambda-DRT present DRT in a Montague style, see e.g. [63] .

These approaches may be used for constructing semantic representations of fragments of natural language. Such representations are relevant for applications like information extraction and retrieval, question answering system, and human-computer interaction, among others.


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